News and Commentary

Steve Bannon: Donald Trump Could Be Ousted By His Own Cabinet

When Robert Mueller handed down indictments to Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopolous earlier this week, sending President Trump’s White House scrambling for a cohesive message, Trump sought advice from his former senior advisor, Steve Bannon — who then told Trump to “get serious,” according to an interview in Vanity Fair.

Mueller is reportedly gearing up to interview West Wing aides, and Bannon wants Trump to lawyer up so that the President had a check on his legal team’s “unchecked power.” Bannon told Trump as much in a series of phone calls earlier in the week.

The problem, Bannon told Vanity Fair, is that he believes the President isn’t acting with enough force, and failing to command respect from those responsible for enacting his agenda. Without some level of cohesiveness among his top aides, advisors, and even employees, Trump, Bannon believes, is vulnerable to attacks from both outside the White House — from so-called “Establishment” Republicans — and from within — including from within his own cabinet.

Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he’s not sure if Trump would survive such a vote.

The 25th Amendment allows the president’s Cabinet, and the vice president, to declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” and approach Congress to hold hearings to decide whether the president is indeed unfit for service.

The 25th Amendment is designed for use in emergency situations; Congress thought the Amendment, as written, seemed clear cut. You’d know when the president was “unfit” because he’d be physically injured, mentally incompetent or, heaven forbid, dead. But leftists, and some anti-Trump Republicans, have argued that the Amendment’s language is intentionally vague, so as to cover a multitude of other presidential sins, including just sheer ineptitude.

Trump should be protected — after all, he selected his own Cabinet and his vice president — but Bannon seems to believe that those same officials don’t see allegience to the President as a qualification for holding their jobs, and he’d like to see Trump start demanding their respect.

“One thing Steve wants Trump to do is take this more seriously,” a “Bannon confidante” told Vanity Fair. “Stop joking around. Stop tweeting.”